How could we create a tool for democratic and artistic expression allowing renowned artist Ai Weiwei, legally unable to leave Beijing, to participate in a 2014 conference in Berlin that promoted the discussion of innovation within the scientific community?
Our solution was the creative direction and implementation of Moon, a continuously evolving open online interface where global participants can mark and explore a digital moonscape. Since its launch at the Falling Walls conference in November 2013, this interactive lunar landscape has amassed over 80,000 entries, growing from a blank white canvas to a dense collection of diverse responses. The project is egalitarian in nature; it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection thus transcending global borders, and includes “graffiti” space for international messaging allowing for the democratization of the creative and artistic process. Moon’s open call for creative input is a powerful statement about the potential for ideas to connect people across vast distances and breaks through political, social, and geographical boundaries in the internet age. It allowed for Ai Weiwei’s meaningful participation in the conference, even from afar in China.
Since the project can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, its egalitarian quality symbolizes the importance of an individual’s power to impact the greater world. The main inspiration of the Moon is the democratization of the creative and artistic process, and the encouragement of a constructive visual dialogue. The project is not just a celebration of how technology can break barriers between art and digital, time and place, but also can serve as a call to action. “We have facilitated for you a sphere on which you can make a mark. Not just to make a mark, but make a mark that matters to you. Make your wish, make your dream. Do something.”
The moon, like the Internet, in many ways exists beyond the reach and control of the government, and thus provides a perfect metaphor for their experiment in mass mobilization. “It’s the idea that the moon represents something unconscious from society,” Ai Weiwei recently explained to Artnews. Eliasson also mentioned that, “The moon is interesting because it’s a not yet habitable space so it’s a fantastic place to put your dreams.” As the duo wrote in the introduction to the project, “Creativity defies boundaries. Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.”
“The moon is really about a feeling we have of space, in that it doesn’t have any boundaries. Doesn’t have any walls. Doesn’t have any religious boundaries, or political boundaries,” Eliasson noted during Falling Walls. “So it will be accessible to all, and will be increasingly accessible as time goes.” In some ways this project could even be said to mirror the evolution of the Internet—as it grows and takes on more of a presence, we will become intrinsically linked to its orbit, and mass dissemination of ideas. A quote from Ai Weiwei aptly summarizes the project’s significance: “There are no walls that can stop an idea. “